Monthly Archives: August 2013

Day 63 – Still Doing the Donald

Day 63 – Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We spent the whole day relaxing at the Trump, mostly around the outdoor pools. We started the day off with the buffet breakfast, complete with omelet and waffle stations, and freshly squeezed orange juice. It was then on to the outdoor pool area with all of our electronics. We surfed the net, blogged, ate and drank; met some interesting people and I had a swim or two. Julie notes “Ahhhhhhh… I discovered a new delicious drink called a kiwi caipirinha. I am not the only one who likes it as it is Brazil’s national drink. While we sat there a room full of conventioneers came out to get their picture taken wearing their souvenir Panama hats. Trivia question time: the Panama hat was made famous by Pres. Roosevelt but what country actually is responsible for the hat and is still the main manufacturer to this day? Winner gets a tip of the Panama hat from us!”

We were able to have a great Skype session with our daughter-in-law, Alison, and granddaughter, Melodie. Melodie has really changed in the last 6 weeks or so. She is amazing! Julie notes “And that is a fact, not just the proud grandparents bragging .”

We then visited the tapas restaurant in the hotel for an easy but delicious dinner. All in all, it was a relaxing lazy day. Julie notes “Plus another soak in the best tub ever. Aaaaahhh…”

A military helicopter flying low past the Trump to check on us.

Relaxing in one of the infinity pools with some kind of fire happening near the international airport. We’re not really sure what was happening.

And, our leftover lunch to go.

…that’s all folks, carry on, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “Back to our real world tomorrow. This was a great escape as we ‘pretended to be rich’ as one of our hotel acquaintances claimed they were doing as well. The place was lovely, the staff wonderful, the outgoing Spanish gal that came to turn down our room handed us a little handwritten note to explain that she was there to ‘milk’ our bed. She did leave milk chocolates on the pillow so perhaps that is what they call it here. One thing we concluded in the elevators and poolside was that it must be ‘bring your niece to the Trump’ week as there seemed to be an unusual number of men of a certain age accompanied by young women. That was the only explanation we could come up with. Wink wink”



Day 62 – Trump This!

Day 62 – Tuesday, August 27, 2013

We started the day out in the parking lot at the Estacion de Bomberos with fresh El Salvadorian coffee, yogurt and strawberries. Julie notes “We laid in until 8 o’clock this morning or in Estacion de Bomberos time that is ‘quarter after 3 low flying jets plus 4 car alarms and half past 5 exceptional transport engine brakes, multiple taxi horn honks and several overhead fire station announcements’.

I then booked us into the five star Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower for 2 nights of pampered living. Watch for Happy Julie in the following pictures. J Julie notes “Ahhhhh.” We also booked a Panama City tour. Our driver picked us up at 1:00 PM for the 2.5 hour tour. We first visited Mi Pueblito, a recreated Spanish village. It was then on to old historic Panama (Casco Viejo also known as San Felipe) to tour an area that is undergoing a significant rehabilitation. Many of the buildings have been restored and many are currently undergoing renovations. Julie notes “Again our camera trigger fingers were itchy and we took about 150 pictures. Brad had the difficult job of sifting through them to give you a sampling.”

After the tour, the driver dropped us off at the Trump. He recommended the local restaurant, Jimmy’s, for their seafood. After relaxing around the pool with drinks and avocado “fries” with a delicious dip we headed over to Jimmy’s for dinner. We topped the evening off in the Trump lounge with a cheese plate for dessert.

Mi Pueblito courtyard

An original piece of the old stone fortress wall built to protect Panama from attack.

A little graffiti with a message.

They take a very creative approach to recycling old tires all through Central America.

From our balcony on the 20th floor of the 70 story Trump Hotel. Julie notes “This is my happy face for sure!”

Two bloody Mary’s around the pool with avocado fries. Oh yeah baby! Good stuff.

Infinity pool time. One of 5 pools on the 14th floor terrace. Julie notes “Ahhhh! He’s being swept overboard. I’ll save you. Just let me get your picture first.”

Jimmy’s tinto vino media. (half bottle of red wine)

My grilled garlic octopus. Delicious. Julie notes “My dad Jimmy wouldn’t not have likely ordered this world renowned specialty but he would’ve been missing out. Mmmmm yummy.”

Julie’s butter lobster – 3 half lobsters in one order.

And last but not least, HAPPY Julie! A REAL BATHTUB! Julie notes “This is actually where I slept. Best bath I can remember! Thanks Brad and Donald!”

…over and out from the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “Aunt Lynne and Uncle Herb commented that traveling the Panama Canal was on their bucket list and were happy to travel it virtually with us. We thank you for being our travel mentors. We often say in sticky situations ‘What would Herb do? Love you guys! Now my bucket list wasn’t as worldly and after many weeks on the road I added a glorious soak in a 5 star Trump Hotel tub to my bucket list. Mission accomplished. Brad you are NOT fired!”


Day 61 – Laundry Day

Day 61 – Monday, August 26, 2013

Today was a scheduled and much needed laundry day. We had already scouted out the Laundromat on our walk yesterday. We first had our coffee with yogurt and fresh strawberries for breakfast. Then it was off to the Laundromat in a cab with our bags of dirty laundry. It was a small place with only a few machines so it took us until about 2:00 PM to get everything finished and dry. It was then off to Niko’s for lunch where we ordered in broken Spanish and charades and actually got what we wanted!

I practiced my Espanol with my two new amigos from the Dominican while they practiced their English.

Julie, meanwhile, followed along from inside the Laundromat with her English/Spanish dictionary. Julie notes “I was really starting to get hooked on the soaps that were playing on the TV. The laundry was actually done an hour earlier but don’t tell Brad.”

There was a constant parade of aero/naval personnel up and down the street between all of the official buildings in the canal area. Julie notes “I am thinking if there is ever a ‘who has the best looking, fittest armed forces’ war, Panama is definitely in the running. A fine representation of their young women and men, smartly dressed, friendly, walking with a purpose, it was a pleasure to observe.”

…not too much else to report on today, take care all, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “I guess Brad is too modest to mention the near riot he caused at the Estacion de Bamberos this morning by sitting shirtless outside. So that the distracted women and jealous men could carry on with their work, the shift captain asked Brad to put his shirt on. Luckily we got the heads up before I joined him shirtless!”



Day 60 – Old and New Panama

Day 60 – Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today started out with breakfast at the local restaurant, Niko’s, and then a walk around the old Balboa neighbourhood. We then hopped in a cab and went to the old Panama centro area. It is mostly for locals and is filled with discount stores, many of which were closed on Sunday. We were warned a few times not to venture off the main street onto a side street or into the old town square. Those were considered “red” zones meaning they were too dangerous for tourists. After a visit to the old Panama centro area we headed to the Albrook Mall. A very trendy large upscale mall filled with name brand stores. It is on the same scale as West Edmonton mall. Julie notes “Yes, this is probably more mall visits this past 2 months than in my total lifetime. Still not a fan, but there was A/C.”

A couple of kids checking out the bags of garlic at one of the stands in old Panama.

Pigeons on an old building. A nearby vendor sells bags of corn kernels for feed.

A side street we were warned not to enter.

…and the nearby square with the same warning.

It was then on to the new mall where we were attacked by King Kong! Julie notes “No one warned us about this red zone. The family that took our picture had a good chuckle anyway.”

Julie spied the display of hanging butterflies that always remind her of her mom. Vera was forever making paper butterfly decorations for anyone who wanted them, as one of her many crafts. Julie notes “Love you Mom. Quent does this remind you of your wooden butterfly story?”

There is a paper butterfly prize for the first person who correctly identifies the movie. Julie notes “Dumb and Dumber is NOT the correct answer, but maybe should be.”

We then headed to TGI Fridays for lunch. A cold Heineken and a bloody mary were called for after a tough day of shopping. Julie notes “That is NOT a halo around Brad’s head. He’s no angel although he does drink beer ‘religiously’.”

Julie notes “And I was kissing the sacred celery stick. This was a very yummy drink on a hot day.”

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing around the RV and then headed off for supper with our guide and his traveling partner. We first went to “Mi Pueblito” in Panama in a torrential downpour to find a restaurant for dinner but they were closed on Sundays. Our young cab driver played loud reggae Christiano music and sang along while driving like Mario Andretti. Our first clue should have been the full driver’s side damage to his cab. It was an experience we will not soon forget. Julie notes “I too was praising the Lord when we climbed out the cab, white knuckled but in once piece. He zoomed around corners in on coming lanes, in and out of traffic, through tunnels and traffic circles, the windshield wipers barely keeping up with the rain, thunder crashing and lightening flashing, phone in one hand, rapping praises to God and driving like a bat out of hell. This was really the first time I could identify with the Carrie Underwood song ‘Jesus take the wheel’ and her lesser known song ‘l almost peed my pants.’ My fingerprints will be hard to lift from the armrest I was clinging to. Don’t tell my Mom and Dad about that one, okay?”

The singing cabby recommended an Italian restaurant in downtown Panama called Napoli, between songs. It was a family style Italian restaurant. The food was good and it seemed like a popular place.

…over and out the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “Well you’re probably wondering if anything exciting, besides the usual loud and crazy goings on, happened in our little Estacion de Bamberos camping lot today. Well, the street we look out on suddenly filled with cars, many police and a couple flatbed trucks. Cars were being pulled over, vehicle papers checked and if you weren’t compliant your vehicle was being hauled away on the flatbed. We saw at least one date ending badly as the car was loaded and the boy pleaded and the gal, after trying her hand at pleading, stomped off angry. Moral of the story, having a car is nice but check your boyfriend’s vehicle papers before heading off on a date.”

Day 59 – Panama Canal Transit Tour

Day 59 – Saturday, August 24, 2013

We booked a Panama Canal Transit Tour for today through our guides travel agent contact in Panama. The canal transit tour only runs on Saturdays. A driver picked us up at our “campsite” at 7:30 AM and drove us to the marina. After getting our tickets we boarded a bus for Gamboa. We boarded our tour boat and began the trip back towards the Pacific Ocean and Panama. We arrived back at the marina around 3:00 PM to our awaiting driver and Lincoln. We felt like important people with a car service waiting right at the top of the gang plank for us. J All the other tour members were waiting to board buses or hailing cabs as we got into our air conditioned limo. Julie notes “There was also an impressive entourage of armed policemen on motorcycles, all decked out in black uniforms and mandatory machine guns. We thought they were there to escort us back to our parking lot, but there must’ve been other more important celebrities arriving after us, or our decoys, as they just let us pass on by without even a nod.”

The pictures below tell the tale of our Panama Canal excursion. Julie notes “There was an excellent guide on the ship telling us the tale of the Panama Canal during the excursion.”

Panama skyline from our bus at the beginning of our trek out to Gamboa.

Some of the inner city of Panama. Maybe not so affluent after all. Julie notes “Trust me folks, those blue jeans are never going to dry in this rain forest.”

Our tour boat.

We started off with coffees on the tour. There is no such thing as a grande here. The Panamanians would faint if they ever saw a Tim Horton’s extra-large. Haha. The tour provided us a small snack for breakfast and a nice buffet lunch. Julie notes “Barb if you are reading this, this does NOT count as a ‘nice’ restaurant.”

Meeting our first freighter on the canal.

Important tour members with the Centennial Bridge in the background. The bridge opened in 2004 and is the 2nd permanent crossing of the canal. Julie notes “We look happy there. Little did we know that it is tradition to kiss while passing under that upcoming bridge. Ewwww”

Entering our first lift lock of the trip. One of 3 locks we will go through lowering us 85′ in total from interior Panama Canal freshwater level to sea level.

We had to wait in the lock for this freighter to join us. The freighters are guided on both sides by electric trains attached to the ships with winches and cables. Julie notes “Possible historical fact (keep in mind I can never really remember any of this stuff but love hearing and reading about it.) These are called mules, named for the fact that actual mules were used years ago on the Erie Canal. Also, as I understand it, the locks work using magical water powers. Probably some kind of deal was struck with King Neptune. It’s the only plausible explanation.”

Preparing to exit the first lift lock.

Crane #1

Crane #2

In lift lock #2 with lock #3 right ahead of us.

Our freighter friend joined us again in the locks.

The Bridge of the Americas that we crossed in our RV the previous day.

The let us across the bridge! And under it!

Nearing the end of our tour Julie realized we would be heading back the Estacion de Bomberos’ parking lot in Balboa and was tempted to jump ship. Julie notes “Okay since he brought it up again… Who would’ve thought that in the frame of mind I was in yesterday, being stuck in yet another parking lot, with the aforementioned bonus items, that there would be fireworks happening later on? Oh ya! In the middle of the night, having finally accepted the fact that the humidity was not going to dip below 80% and the fire hall was blocking any breeze we might have had, lying very still so as not to break a sweat, trying to tune out the bomberos’ jocularity as they stepped out to get some air, revelers noisily leaving the community centre right at our back door, hoping they would not back into our rig parked very closely to them and a restless sticky slumber was upon us, all of sudden it happens just like in the movies, Brad and I look at each other and…CRACK, BANG, BOOM, whistlewhistlewhistle,splatterspatter… someone began setting fireworks off right beside us. (The splatter, splatter was stuff from the fireworks hitting our roof.) The only thing missing was the crowd yelling ‘ohhhhh, ahhhhh’. This went on in random spurts (pun intended) for an hour or so. (Yes please feel free to wisecrack about the length of time.) This happens right outside the fire station no less. And someone tied balloons to our bumper Honestly, who could make this stuff up?”

The Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge of Life designed by the Canadian born architect, Frank Gehry with the city of Panama skyline in the background.

Ships waiting in the Pacific to transit the canal. The average cost per ship to transit the canal is $85,000 US and it must be wired to the Canal Authority in cash 48 hours prior to entering.

We ended the day back at the RV and each had a much needed shower. Someone had the camera plus the water was cold! Julie notes “He mentions the cold water in case that shower curtain falls down and there is some shrinkage to explain. He doesn’t want another George Costanza incident. And yes I showered in the estacion de bombaros’ parking lot in the middle of the afternoon and yes it felt amazing!”

…over and out, the muleskinner and his sidekick




Day 58 – Across the Panama Canal

Day 58 – Friday, August 23, 2013

We left our Price Smart parking lot campground in David, Panama this morning around 7:30 AM and headed towards Panama City. We drove about 435 kilometres today. Panama, and Costa Rica for that matter, appear more affluent than many of the other Central American countries. Both have more development and resort facilities and better economies, it appears.

Our Price Smart parking lot campground in David, Panama just after sunrise.

A couple of unknown buildings near a police checkpoint we were stopped at for a document check. No idea what these were used for but appear very secure. Too secure for an outhouse? Julie notes “Seems they were trying to camouflage them. Vewy interestink! But it von’t verk.”

We stopped at a roadside stand selling traditional dresses and bead necklaces and bracelets. Julie checked out the wares. Julie notes “Bonita colores, and hand appliqued. I had someone special in mind while I shopped. You’ll have to guess who.”

And we also checked out a cool spider web nearby. Julie notes “I took this picture from afar. I wasn’t interested in meeting the web master.”

Anyone want a banana? Julie notes “Or as my dad always said when he was turning down a food offering ‘No thanks, I just had a banana.’ Good thing we didn’t rear end him. That’s a lot of banana splits.”

The highways in Panama, for the most part, are pretty good. Today we travelled on mostly 4 lane divided highway. There are short sections that are the original concrete and pretty rough but those sections are less frequent than the good stuff. Julie notes “clickclack,clack,clink,clink,clank,ouch (trying not to chip a tooth on my metal water bottle while driving over the ‘pretty rough’ spots).”

Julie notes “Notice we have a new white butt in our road pictures now.”

We crossed the Panama Canal on the historic “Bridge of the Americas” and pulled into the canal administration area in Balboa. The area is beautiful and well maintained. It is full of landscaped boulevards and beautiful old buildings. This is where Julie thought we would be camping. Julie notes “Yay, at last, the ‘holiday portion’ of the adventure is starting!”

Not so fast. We camped in the Balboa Fire Department parking lot. It is in the beautiful Canal area but is the one and only building needing repair. This is what we got from Julie’s viewpoint. J

Julie notes “Okay, if I can’t say something nice I should just not say anything right? But really, are you kidding me?”

The people working here were great though and very friendly. They proudly showed us their modern equipment. It is some of the most up-to-date equipment anywhere in Central America. Both fire fighters (bomberos) and paramedics work from this facility.

Some of the staff were preparing supper when we toured through the building. They loved getting their picture taken and had some fun doing so. Julie notes “We didn’t get invited for supper but Brad cooked me up some turkey burgers which were nummy. His clever trick of trying to distract me with food.”

…over and out for today, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “Seriously though, it is right next to a major thoroughfare where transports gleefully use their retarder brakes. Plus the other ‘surprise’ that our guide seemed to think was a bonus, is we’re close to the airport and also right under the landing and take off flight path of military and leer jets and planes, etc. Flying so low (and loud) that Brad has to practically duck and the camper actually shakes and all the car alarms in the area go off. For real. Okay, now I’m done. But honestly?”

Day 57 – David, Panama

Day 57 – Thursday, August 22, 2013

We are currently in David (pronounced Da-veed), Panama. It was a short travel day from the mountain town of Volcan down to David. We had our truck serviced, filled up with diesel and propane, bought a few groceries and visited another mall. Contrary to popular belief, visiting malls is not Julie’s favourite activity. That leaves it up to your imagination to determine her favourite activity (wink, wink). Julie notes “NOT visiting malls has become my new favourite activity. No winks implied.”

We did take in an afternoon matinee at the theatre. We saw Red 2 with Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis is not my favourite actor but this movie was in English (with Spanish subtitles) and was actually quite good and also funny in parts. Julie notes “I recognized a few more Spanish words in the subtitles but it turns out reading and listening and eating popcorn is two more things than I can do and still keep up with the plot.” We are camped out in the Price Smart parking lot. It is almost identical to Costco. We experienced afternoon rain again today. Julie notes “I am starting to notice some webbing in between my toes. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is probably me telling you that these wet parking lots are beginning to grow on me.”

This will be Victor and Mindy’s last day with us. This is Mindy. Julie notes “Yes Victor left to start his new life in a new place. I think he was a bit hesitant to take the plunge. Which is funny because he is a surfer. He is a great guy and we wish him the best. And hopefully he will soon forgive Mindy for chewing up his iPhone with all his contact info in it. Hard to stay mad at that cute face though.” The Rambos’ also started out on their own for their new adventure living in Panama. We will miss them as our travelling companions and wish them all the best.

For the second time on the trip, Victor needed a boost because of a dead battery. Julie notes “We also wish him no more dead batteries and may it be a long, long time before he has to sleep in his van again!”

A view leaving Volcan.

Julie giving a wave from her perch in the truck while it was being serviced. Julie notes “These guys know how to treat a lady. Up on a pedestal where I belong. No comments on how it took a hoist to get me up there! The iTunes weren’t playing at the time but I’m pretty sure Brad was humming ‘love lifts you up where you belong.'”

Her view of the shop. Julie notes “Doing a little mental Christmas shopping while I was up there. A little something for everyone.”

>..over and out for today, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “We also said our good byes to Wally Wally and his family, who had stayed the previous 2 nights in a hotel down the road. They drove by us today as we were at the propane filling station and we radioed hugs to each other. When Wally Wally got on the radio and said ‘Bye Bye Miss Julie’ I had a bit of a cry. He was the perfect little bright spot when I needed one. Thanks for that Wally Wally and keep that sweet side as you grow bigger. But we were able to go on FaceBook today and saw some wonderful pictures of another little sweetie, Melodie, so all will be well.”

Day 56 – Volcan Countryside

Day 56 – Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We hired a young taxi driver, Carlos Vidal, to take us on a 2 hour tour of the area around Volcan, Panama. First, we had bagels, poached eggs, ham and cheese along with some fresh El Salvador coffee to start the day off right. Our friend Victor joined us on the tour. Julie notes “Victor decided to stay one more day before heading to his new place. Probably because the thought of leaving us makes him too sad. Or could be that his place won’t be ready until tomorrow. You decide.”

The area is quite mountainous with rich volcanic soil great for growing vegetables. The mountains are cultivated by horse and single furrow plough as high as they can go. The valleys are farmed with more modern tractors and equipment – largely Massey Ferguson equipment. The mountain fed rivers are fast running, pristine, clear and clean, and abundant. Most of the hillside land is irrigated.

As has been the trend, it rained heavily this afternoon. The power went out in the town the same time Julie and I headed out for lunch in our rain gear. So, it was back to the camper for delicious chicken and guacamole on cheese buns. Yummy stuff.

We took 120 photos today but will only be able to show a sample of the scenery and people of the area.

Julie notes “Peekaboo”.

Carlos and Julie at one of our stops.

A local elementary school. The kids are all in school this time of year. Seems kind of weird to see kids going to school. Most of the kids we’ve seen wear a uniform.

Some ladies in traditional native dress.

Laundry day at this house. Julie notes “It is laundry day, every day it seems as we’ve driven through the last few countries. Laundry hung on fences, roof edges, hedges, and of course clothes lines. I think it may stay out there getting re-rinsed each day until the rainy season ends although I did see 3 cute little kids laughing and jumping up and grabbing laundry way above their heads as the first big drops of rain started falling. We have seen women down at the river washing the clothes on rocks. Hard work. I am once again reminded of how spoiled I am with my all of my automated devices. I vow to enjoy doing laundry from now on. (no-one’s going to hold me to that are they?)”

Applying fertilizer by hand.

Carrot harvest. Julie notes “If you want to really make a Panamanian cab driver laugh just try saying zanahorias (carrots) a few times. We were sure we were saying it just like he was.”

Come home sober to this place or else!

Our campsite at the municipal police compound. Julie notes “Home sweet home. It’s all part of the adventure…”

It can really rain here. A small river forms in the ditch in a few minutes.

….carry on folks, the muleskinner and his sidekick


Day 55 – Volcan, Panama

Day 55 – Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another border crossing was planned for today from Costa Rica to Panama. We will not spend much time in Costa Rica but it is a beautiful country with some great tourist developments and a spot to come back to someday. Julie notes “I started Brad off with a snappy fun little tune from the iPod called Muleskinner Blues. His mother in-law-Vera would be pleased with that as she dubbed him the muleskinner after he successfully led caravans of relatives across Alberta, BC and beyond on several occasions. It was a good way to start a soon to be hectic border day.”

We had glimpse of the scenic Pacific coastline and mountains as we travelled southward towards Panama. Unfortunately, we reached the border and had to navigate the most chaotic vehicle setup you could imagine. It is pure chaos trying to juggle your vehicle into the right position through a maze of traffic heading in all directions. Panama is quite a progressive, modern country but the border crossing certainly does not demonstrate that to the casual visitor. Julie notes “It was Brad’s turn to turn the airwaves blue as he was forced out of the lineup for the 4th time by transports and macho traffic policemen with whistles and attitudes. Cover your ears again Wally, Wally.”.

Carlos, our restaurateur host, seeing us off in the morning. Julie notes “Brad was experiencing a bad case of oven envy as Carlos was the proud owner of an authentic, right down to the horse manure, Central American wood burning oven similar to a Forno oven. Hot stuff. Oh well. He already has a hot tamale for a wife. He can’t have everything.”

Our campsite and Julie’s early morning contemplation. What is she contemplating do you suppose? Maybe I don’t want to know. Julie notes “Well let’s pretend she’s NOT contemplating the new whisker she just found. And let’s say this is part of her Tai Chi meditation that she does on stressful border crossing days. Or maybe she’s saying mmmm Chai tea would be tasty right now.”

Costa Rican scenery at 80 km/h.

Duh, which way do I go?

I can’t go anywhere, at least not fast.

The border effects of 7 different processes, all at different locations, on a handsome, intelligent, calm, otherwise mostly sane gringo. Julie notes “Obviously he’s describing Justin, in the pink shirt behind him.”

One of the many money changers hanging out at the border displaying wads of cash.

But with my patient nature, we make it through another border unscathed and hope they mean what they say on their sign. J

Julie notes “For the WTF file (Wow That’s Freaky!) after we finally were able to position ourselves in the line for the 5th attempt and our 5th wheel buddies up ahead held their space for us to occupy while a young lad ran along in front of us waving us past other irate drivers into the actual lineup, the Uncle Kracker song ‘Follow me, everything will be alright…’ played out of our itunes. Okay well maybe it didn’t play until after we’d been sitting there for about 30 minutes but I think it still qualifies for a ‘WTF’. Then Cold Play sang to us that ‘nobody said it would be easy, I’m going back to the start..’ and that is when we realized that each time we thought we were done, there was one more person to play charades with in broken Spanglish. But we did it. And Chloe, please cover your ears in doggy heaven, but we were thankful not to have a dog or 4 dogs with us, as even though they had all the documents in order there was one more money grab before our fellow travellers were allowed to cross. Meanwhile we were outside the gates having a chicken and guacamole sandwich.”

We drove on to Volcan at an elevation of about 4000′ above sea level. It is much cooler here. Tonight the temperature is below 20C. We ate at a little outdoor restaurant with our friend Victor who will be departing us tomorrow and heading to his new home a few hours away.

We are camped out in the municipal police compound. Not one of Julie’s favourite camping places but we’ll see what tomorrow has to offer in Volcan. Julie mumbles in her wine ‘glass is half empty’ way “It’s part of the adventure, it’s part of the adventure, it’s part of the adventure…, more wine please.”

…over and out for today, the muleskinner and his sidekick




Day 54 – Costa Rica

Day 54 – Monday, August 19, 2013

Note: We posted 4 updates (Day 50 – 53) last time we had a wifi connection. If you are a subscriber, you may not have received all of the notifications for each post. You can however use the navigation and menus if you missed any exciting updates. J

Today we left Lake Nicaragua after our 7:30 AM driver’s meeting. We either meet the night before or the morning of a travel day to review our route, border crossing topics, and any highlights we can expect. Our destination for the day was Parrita, Costa Rica. However, because of a lengthy border crossing process exiting Nicaragua and entering Costa Rica, we only made it to a small place near Jaco, CR before rain and darkness halted our progress. After scouting out a mall that didn’t work for everybody, we settled in across the street at a new restaurant thanks to the owner who came and helped us out. Carlos was a terrific ambassador for Costa Rica and we enjoyed some drinks and conversation with him even though he was closed on Monday.

A crane visited us right outside our back door before leaving Lake Nicaragua. Julie notes “I was pretty worried as for a minute there I thought it was the stork!”

Julie captured this shot of the old farmer whipping his horse as he passes the skateboarder image on the side of the taco truck. I think this picture tells the story of life in Nicaragua! Julie notes “One other ‘sign of the times’ image that sticks in my mind from today was of a rustic looking young lad texting on his phone while riding his horse beside the highway.”

Wind turbines along the shoreline of Lake Nicaragua. Julie notes “Be thankful I did not take a picture of the ever active wind turbine in the seat beside me.”

Life at the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The drive through Costa Rica is beautiful. Too bad it was raining and dark for most of the afternoon drive.

…another border crossing down, over and out, the muleskinner and his sidekick.

Julie notes “Brad has kindly skimmed over or perhaps already forgotten the several high stress moments of the day, including sudden a change in direction causing our family in the big rig to be blocking 4 lanes of traffic at the gate to a port as they tried to turn to follow the leader. The radio airwaves were a bit blue after that. Hope Wally Wally had his ear phones on. Wish I could say things settled after that but I can’t. Everyone enjoyed the drinks at the bar that night!”